Last August, in the midst of some of the ski industry's largest mergers and acquisitions, British Columbia's Red Mountain Resort launched an industry-first crowdfunding campaign titled, "Fight The Man. Own The Mountain."
The Rossland, B.C., resort saw the overwhelming control large corporations were beginning to have over the ski resort industry, and in order to stay true to their independent roots, the idea behind Red Mountain's campaign was to give skiers a chance to own a part of the mountain.
During Phase 1 of the campaign, which Red called "Test The Waters," potential investors from across Canada and the U.S. were given the opportunity to pledge an "expression of interest" anywhere between $1,000 and $25,000. With no money changing hands, Red used this 90-day period to judge public interest in the campaign to see if they could raise enough money to fund their independent future.
Over 3,500 investors and $12.2 million in pledges later, Red is ready for Phase 2, actual investment.
Starting August 14, Canadian investors can fulfill their pledges, earning themselves a piece of the mountain, as well as a collection of rewards, from free lift tickets to season passes to custom Blizzard skis, depending on their monetary commitment.
"It has been one of the biggest grassroots, organic campaigns in ski resort ownership," said Howard Katkov, owner and CEO of Red. "This has been great for our mountain, and great for skiing in general."
Katkov said the massive amount of support the campaign has garnered speaks to the biggest problem the industry currently faces. "The big corporate acquisitions are disenfranchising the skier from the industry," he said. "I think we've struck a nerve. There are people who are feeling this. We are giving them a forum to express their feelings."
In the first day of its FrontFundr campaign, Red Mountain raised over $500,000 from 145 investors, which set a Canadian record for equity crowdfunding campaigns.
Because the U.S. regulatory process for equity funding takes approximately 90 days longer than Canada, American investment will open on StartEngine starting November 2. However, Red wants to make clear this staggered start does not offer Canadian investors an undo advantage.
With the funding from the campaigns, Katkov said that Red will be able to continue as an independent resort, while also having the opportunity for steady growth in the future.
"It's extremely important for independent ski resorts to hold their own,” said Katkov. “They represent what we all grew up loving about skiing."
Come ski season, Katkov said the mountain looks forward to greeting its thousands of new owners, and welcoming them to the Red Mountain family.